Normally when an animal is ill or hurt, you go to the vet. When one goes missing, you call Ace Ventura, naturally. But what do you do when you find an injured turtle—its shell cracked with a sizable fissure? You call a dentist. That’s what happened in a bizarre, yet brilliant turn of a events in Marathon, Florida.
Marlene, a member of the Save-A-Turtle organization, was searching for turtle nests in Key West. Instead she found a severely injured juvenile turtle. Rope had ensnared the turtle’s flipper. A boat strike (most likely) had ruptured its shell, and tumors had begun to grow.
‘Elena,’ as she was then called, was brought into the Key West Wildlife Center and then to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. Just like a human, Elena received fluids and nourishment through feeding tubes. They also administered antibiotics. Cracked shells are perfect targets for bacteria that infect them with SCUD, a life-threatening disease.
For weeks Elena was in critical condition. It took many weeks for her to feed on her own and nearly a month to be able to dive underwater again. One major problem persisted though: the cracked shell.
Calling in the Dentist
A cracked shell leaves a turtle more vulnerable to physical damage as well as diseases like SCUD and shell rot. Vets at the Turtle Hospital knew they had to use orthopedic splints, but were unsure how to attach them. They couldn’t be screwed into bone like a human.
That’s when the dentist Dr. Fred Troxel stepped in. Utilizing denture repair resin, Dr. Troxel succeeded in attaching metal plates to the shell. Just like in bonding materials to teeth, Dr. Troxel bonded these inorganic plates to the organic shell. And the best part is that since it’s acrylic resin, it’s water resistant.
Elena still is healing, but she’ll most likely make a full recovery. In fact, her situation could’ve been much worse. Another turtle at the hospital, Moses, had a broken shell that punctured its lung! Thanks to the dentist Dr. Troxel, this turtle will one day return to the sea alive and well.
Dr. Potts is a gentle, caring dentist who uses the most advanced materials and procedures available. He practices comfortable, health-centered dentistry, with a strong emphasis on getting to know each patient. In addition to his technical proficiency, Dr. Potts is a careful listener. He makes sure to understand what you want and will explain beforehand what treatment is best for your individual needs, along with all options available to you. Check out our Twitter, Facebook page, and website.